Instead of taking taxis, students are using the free Toomer’s Ten bus system to get home, organized by the SGA, after a night at the bars.
SGA said it organized the bus system to give students a way to avoid drinking and driving.
But, while this service is free, it does not come without consequences. Some local taxi companies are claiming the buses are negatively impacting their businesses.
“The drivers complain about not making as much money in tips,” said Kevin McCarley of Tiger Taxi. “But, in all honesty, I just finished my taxes for the year and I don’t think it has affected me at all.”
But some other companies claim the free transit service students are using instead of taxis is hurting them during the week.
“(Toomer’s Ten) has really hurt my business on Wednesday and Thursday nights,” said Miss Sue, owner and driver for Eagle Town Taxi. “But on Friday and Saturday nights we do fine because there are so many people out.”
SGA President Jacob Watkins said the benefits the service provides to students outweigh the consequences it may have on local taxi companies.
“We believe it is essential to find a way to transport our students in the most efficient and safe way at night,” Watkins said in an e-mail. “The taxi services were not meeting those needs, so we decided the need and safety of our students is the most important (issue that concerns us).”
While Watkins did not directly address the allegation that Toomer’s Ten takes business away from local taxi companies, he did say that the bus service was beneficial to downtown.
“Toomer’s Ten has also created job and revenue for the city and has helped boost the economy in the downtown area,” Watkins said.
However, some taxi company operators may not agree with Watkins’ stance regarding downtown business.
“I have been working in Auburn since 2003,” said Jose Correa, owner and operator of Twin City Taxi LLC. “Of course (Toomer’s Ten) is hurting my business due to it being free.”